A street preacher, already notorious in Amarillo, Texas, disrupted a shopping mall’s Santa visitation with children recently, loudly announcing to them, “Santa Claus is not real.” There is no doubt he was very sincere in what he was doing; for, yes, Santa Claus is not “real” but that does not mean his tradition in our country is not valid for little children. But he demonstrated the wisdom of the bumper sticker I’ve been obsessed with recently, “Don’t believe everything you think.”
This gentleman believes he has the “truth” and that the “truth” most boldly proclaimed because hapless parents lack the spiritual depth he has or they would not subject their innocent children to this falsity. And this illustrates the dilemma of “truth” and the danger that occurs when one is “filled with the spirit” and knows that he has the truth exclusively. As admitted in the past, I write from experience and now realize just how arrogant I was, now seeing Truth as much more subtle part of a mystical dimension of human experience which we can never own. But, oh is it tempting to think that we do!
I readily admit that I feel I am writing “truth” when I discourse here but have no illusion that it is axiomatic, written in stone, sent from on “high” Truth. I have only a simple perspective, shaped by my biological and social past and for some unknown reason I am moved to “hold forth” in this venue, taking comfort in the knowledge that no one is being coerced to pay any attention. And oh so many don’t!
The street preacher’s “truth-proclaiming” belied the certainty that consumes him about his beliefs and that certainty is now consuming American culture, especially the conservative element. The braggadocio of Donald Trump and his promise to “Make America Great Again” appealed to a segment of the population who pines foe the days when life was more certain. Furthermore, Trump’s rhetoric appealed to fundamentalist Christians who readily looked past his moral depravity in the hope that the “certainty” of their faith could be reassured. Certainty is so much easier than faith.
But the certainty I’m exploring here belies a profound lack of certainty, a deep existential doubt that must be assuaged by addictively clinging to some dogma, even “dogma” that I have found to have great value once I had the courage to see the role my ego was playing in my immature and dogmatic faith. When one is existentially insecure, he must find something to latch on to in order to alleviate the emotional, spiritual duress he would otherwise feel.
(See story about Mall Santa verbal attack, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/12/13/preacher-children-santa-claus-does-not-exist/95371826/)